2007 Wheelchair tennis champion of the year: Jason Harnett
For nearly a decade, Jason Harnett has been a mentor for wheelchair tennis players both on and off the court. Each year, Harnett, a USTA national coach, spends six to eight weeks training and traveling with the country’s elite wheelchair athletes. As the head coach of the Quadriplegic team at the Invacare World Team Cup, Harnett has led his team to five titles.
Harnett’s work with wheelchair players began in earnest in 1996, when he led a clinic for about 10 players in Mission Viejo, Calif., where he is the city’s head tennis pro. Today, thanks to his hard work, Mission Viejo is now the home of the ITF/Cruyff Foundation Tennis Camp-Americas.
For his dedication to the development of wheelchair tennis and its players, Harnett is this year’s RSI Wheelchair Tennis Champion.
“What makes him a great coach is his understanding of each player as an individual,” says Dan James, USTA Wheelchair national head coach. “He knows what to do and say to bring out their best performance.”
Harnett’s relationship with his players reaches beyond the court. “You’re a coach, but you’re also a counselor,” he says. “You’re a friend.”
Says World No. 1 wheelchair player David Wagner, “I know that without Jason by my side and helping me along the way, I would not be where I am today.”
Tips for success
- Learn from the player. Talk to athletes about their disability and find out what they can and can’t do physically.
- Do your research. Learn about wheelchair tennis from the ITF and USTA websites, itftennis.com and usta.com.
- Show the player how to learn to love the game and the challenge of it.
See all articles by Kristen Daley
About the Author
Kristen Daley is a contributing editor for Tennis Industry magazine.